Anne of Green Gables | Study Guide

L. M. Montgomery

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Anne of Green Gables | Chapter 12 : A Solemn Vow and Promise | Summary

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Summary

Of course Marilla hears about the wildflowers on Anne's Sunday school hat, and of course she lectures Anne about them, asking, "What on earth put you up to such a caper?" Though Anne points out many girls at church had bouquets pinned to their dresses—and many had artificial flowers on their hats—Marilla is worried about the bad impression Anne must have made. Mrs. Lynde has told Marilla "people talked about it something dreadful," and Marilla makes her desire clear: "All I want is that you should behave like other little girls and not make yourself ridiculous."

Marilla may be more anxious than usual because she is about to bring Anne with her to meet Diana Barry, who lives close by and is Anne's age. As she has done in the past, she warns Anne of the importance of impressing Diana's strict mother. This is because "if she doesn't like you it won't matter how much Diana does ... Don't make any of your startling speeches."

Diana is reading a book when they arrive. Her mother suggests she show Anne her garden instead of "straining your eyes over that book." She adds to Marilla that Diana reads entirely too much.

Out in the garden the two girls stare bashfully at each other until Anne breaks the silence by asking, "Do you think you can like me a little—enough to be my bosom friend?" It's a strange question for someone Anne has just met, but Diana laughs and agrees. She's startled when Anne asks her to swear to be friendly forever and responds, "It's dreadfully wicked to swear." Anne reassures her this kind of swearing is all right, and the two girls solemnly swear fidelity forever. Diana with a laugh, "I heard before that you were queer. But I believe I'm going to like you real well."

By the time Marilla is ready to take Anne home, the girls have made all kinds of plans—building a playhouse, gathering shells, renaming various landmarks so they'll sound more poetic. "All I hope is you won't talk Diana to death," says Marilla, reminding Anne she'll need to do her chores before she can play.

It makes Anne even happier to discover Matthew has bought her some candy. Immediately Anne asks if she can give half of the chocolates to Diana, delighted "to think I have something to give her."

Analysis

Anne is lucky to find another kindred spirit in Diana. Her first few sentences to Diana are definitely what Marilla would call one of her "startling speeches." Unfortunately Montgomery doesn't reveal more of the girls' first meeting; it's a relief, later, to hear Anne describe the many activities they've planned. They've obviously hit it off. The rapport may be partly because they're the same age and live near each other, but Anne also seems to have a gift for charming people quite different from herself.

It's also fortunate Diana likes to read the same kinds of books as Anne: she's likely to have read a story in which two girls become eternal friends. In the 19th and early 20th centuries friendships between girls were often deeply romantic. Girl crushes were common; schoolgirls sent each other love letters and, like Anne and Diana, swore eternal vows to one another. As a child Montgomery and her friend Amanda were so close that schoolmates called them Mollie and Pollie. The girls promised to be faithful friends forever by writing "Notes of Promise" to each other. These were witnessed by two of their friends to make them seem even more official. At about 12 Montgomery and her friends began exchanging love poems. A poem Montgomery received praised her "wondrous braids of nut-brown hair"; one she wrote called a friend "my own sweet wildwood rose."

Montgomery loved flowers all her life, and the Barrys' garden is described with loving care. It's a fitting spot for the beginning of such an important relationship.

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